PARADISE HILLS is director/writer Alice Waddington’s tour de force film debut with an all-star cast and resplendent costumes that reveal a dark and complex feminist critique of love and relationships. Like THE HUNGER GAMES, PARADISE HILLS is set in a glimmering, candy-colored futuristic dystopia marked by strict social divisions and rigid female subservience. Uma (Emma Roberts) is one such upper-class girl who is unknowingly shipped off to the mysterious island of Paradise Hills where she and others are moulded into docile and subservient members of high society. There Uma meets others like Yu (Awkwafina) and Amarna (Eiza González) and the malevolent Duchess (Milla Jovovich).
Life at Paradise Hills is a sort of ALICE IN WONDERLAND sci-fi with a clear feminist agenda and lesbian subplots that aims to critique not just the social pressures placed on women in relationships, but the dark side of the wellness industry, family lineages, and the myths of social mobility. Jovovich and Roberts are nuanced and compelling in their roles and the script is a strong and tightly woven entrée into what will undoubtedly be a strong career for Waddington. PARADISE HILLS is a sumptuous and dark film that will undoubtedly leave viewers wondering whether the future perhaps isn’t so far off at all.
“Is this a gay bar?” 17-year-old misfit Gera asks. “It’s an everything bar,” his best friend’s sister, Rita, replies. In this unflinching dive into Mexico City’s mid-1980s punk rock underground, “everything” is what you get. A drama about family bonds and decadent nightlife, a coming-of-age tale as wild as it is melancholy, THIS IS NOT BERLIN stands as one of the year’s boldest and most acclaimed international hits.
Gera and Carlos don’t fit in with the aggressive boys at high school. When they con their way into an anything-goes dance club to see Rita’s punk band, they get seduced into a world of hard drugs, rough sex, and transgressive performance art. As Carlos gets drawn into the orbit of queer artist Nico (a searing, award-winning performance from up-and-comer Mauro Sanchez Navarro), he and Gera find themselves questioning their sexuality, their sanity, and their friendship.
Featuring breathless cinematography and live music performances that bristle with energy, THIS IS NOT BERLIN ranks as one of 2019’s most vibrant and memorable imports. Director Hari Sama takes a classic tale of teen awakening and revs it up to 11 with passion, insight, and a remarkably gifted cast of actors.